Deep Comparison of Crown vs Implant

If your recent trip to the dentist has left you wondering whether a crown, bridge, or dental implant will be best for you, it is likely that you are a bit confused and overwhelmed with the treatment options that have been presented to you. In most cases, your dentist will always present all treatment options to you so that you will be able to make a fully informed decision. While this is good and undoubtedly helpful, it can leave most people's heads spinning a bit, and it can confuse the process of choosing treatment. This is especially true when considering crown vs implant.

Dental work is a large investment that will impact your life a considerable amount, so it is important to choose the treatment option that is best for you and will work best for your lifestyle. Continue reading for detailed information about crowns, bridges, and dental implants so that you can make an educated decision regarding your dental treatment plan when considering crown vs implant.

Crown vs Implant

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While the process of placing crowns and bridges is very different than the placement of a dental implant, they serve a common purpose: to fill a spot in the mouth where a natural tooth is missing with a prosthetic-or artificial-tooth. Both of these treatment methods have their own risks and benefits to consider, and while one option may be best for one individual, it may not be the best option for another. Like with any other dental treatment, it is important to consult your dentist on what they recommend for you. This article will break down the discussion of crown vs implant to eliminate any questions or concerns you may have concerning your proposed treatment.

Why Are They Used?

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When a tooth or multiple teeth are missing in the mouth, there are a few different negative outcomes that are presented. The first and most easily detected by the individual is an unpleasant or unsatisfactory smile line; no one wants gaps in their smile. When a tooth is missing from the front of the mouth, referred to clinically by dental professionals as the anterior teeth, the individual usually finds themselves being ashamed of their smile, wanting to fill the space so that they are more comfortable showing their teeth.

Placing a crown or implant in the space will fill the patient's smile line, and will be designed to be the same shape and color as the rest of the teeth to ensure that the work that has been done will not be obvious. Silver and gold crowns are very much a thing of the past; in most cases, once the work is done, whether it be a crown, bridge, or dental implant, most people are unable to tell the difference between the altered or artificial teeth and the natural teeth unless it is pointed out to them. In most cases, the patient themselves will start to view the altered or artificial tooth as one of their natural teeth as well.

Another negative side effect of a missing tooth is a decrease in the ability to chew correctly. This usually occurs when there is a tooth or teeth missing from the back of the mouth. Each tooth in the mouth contributes to the individual's natural ability to bite and chew, and the absence of even one tooth has the potential to negatively impact chewing and biting. Crowns, bridges, and implants are used to prevent these things from occurring. Filling the space not only looks better; it proves to be extremely beneficial for the patient in the long run clinically by saving their naturally occurring bite from being altered.

Shifting Teeth

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Over time, when nothing is done to fill the spaces in the mouth, the teeth in the mouth will shift, which can lead to a few different issues. Aesthetically, the teeth may become abnormally positioned or crooked. This may cause the individual to become even more self-conscious of their smile and lead to an even stronger dissatisfaction with the way their teeth look as a whole. A large part of dentistry is helping people become more confident in their smiles, so in most cases, an individual's dentist will recommend treatment not only to ensure their dental health but to ensure their confidence in their smile as well.

Clinically, the shifting of teeth can prove to be quite detrimental to the individual's natural bite. In such cases, a considerable amount of strain is placed on certain teeth, causing them to be much more susceptible to damage and decay. The placement of a prosthetic tooth, whether it be a crown, bridge, or dental implant, helps prevent the shifting of teeth, which ultimately prevents any additional damage or decay due to an incorrect bite.

Bone Loss

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As soon as a tooth is removed from the mouth, the bone in the jaw that once surrounded the tooth begins to recede, as it no longer has anything to support. If allowed to progress, bone loss has the potential to lead to the looseness and subsequent loss of other teeth in the mouth. After a certain degree of bone loss has occurred, the individual will no longer be a candidate for dental implants, as an implant needs a good amount of strong bone around it in order to be placed successfully and stay strong in the mouth.

To determine if an individual is a candidate for implants, most dentists will ask that their patient undergoes a CT Scan, which is a 3-dimensional X-ray. This 3-dimensional X-ray allows the dentist to evaluate the patient's bone and determine if there is enough good bone in which to place an implant.

A Deep Comparison of Crowns & Implants

It is easy to get confused about the differences between these two treatment methods. Continue reading for a detailed breakdown of crown vs implant as well as the pros and cons of each treatment. Ensuring that you are educated on the differences between crown vs implant will help you make a more informed decision, and it will allow you to further discuss your treatment with your dentist.

Crowns and Bridges: 

The Breakdown

Deep Comparison of Crown vs Implant

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A crown is essentially a porcelain or ceramic cap that covers your natural tooth to prevent further decay. When an individual has a missing tooth and a sub-sequential space in their mouth, their dentist will often recommend a bridge. A bridge is a multiple-unit porcelain or ceramic cap; it is basically a three-unit crown that is fused together. Bridges are composed of two crowns that cover the natural teeth on each side, referred to as the abutments. In between these two abutment crowns is what is known as the pontic which is essentially just a "fake" tooth that fills the space in the mouth.

This treatment option is best for individuals who do not have enough bone structure for implants. When bone structure is not a problem, dentists usually recommend crowns and bridges as a second option; in order to place a crown or bridge over a natural tooth, the tooth must first be altered or shaved down. Placing a crown over the altered tooth protects it, but it is still possible for decay to occur underneath the crown or bridge, which renders the treatment useless in the case that the tooth has to be pulled out. In the placement of a bridge, the two "anchor" or abutment teeth on either side of the pontic tooth must be shaved down prior to the placement of the bridge.

This causes damage to two perfectly healthy teeth and compromises their prognosis, which is something that most dentists will try to avoid when possible. When compared with implants, crowns and bridges are relatively affordable, usually costing the patient around $2000. Most insurance companies will cover a certain amount of crowns or bridges, with a limit to how many bridges and crowns are covered, as well as how often they will be covered. Having the benefit of insurance coverage is a large deciding factor for many people.

PROS

  • Quickly completed in just a few visits
  • Not as invasive as an implant
  • No surgery required
  • Less expensive than an implant
  • Usually covered by insurance

C​ONS

  • Damage to "healthy" teeth in order to support the pontic tooth in the center of a bridge
  • Potential to fail in the future
  • Possible bone loss
  • Does not replace missing tooth under the gumline

Dental Implants: The Breakdown

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In most cases, a dental implant is the best long-term option for an individual as long as they have a decent bone structure. An implant is a titanium device that is placed directly into the bone in the jaw. This "replaces" the natural tooth which prevents bone loss over time and prevents the teeth from shifting. In a sense, an implant is the closest thing to a natural tooth when it comes to replacing a missing tooth in the mouth. It does have its own share of drawbacks: the initial placement of the implant is quite invasive and is usually required to be done by an oral surgeon.

After the initial placement, the individual will return a number of times for post-op appointments to monitor the healing. A healing cap is placed over the implant for a period usually ranging anywhere from 3 to 5 months. The healing time is usually dependent on the patient's personal medical history, as well as the recommendations of the dentist. After the healing period, the patient will return to the office to start the process of fabricating the crown that will fill the smile line. It is important to keep in mind that during that 3 to 5 month healing period, the individual will still have space in the mouth.

While a dental implant is ideal in the long run, it does take a bit of time and multiple dental visits before it is complete. In addition to this, dental implants can prove to be quite expensive, with total treatment costs usually above $5,000 for one single tooth. Most insurance companies do not cover dental implants, and if they do cover anything, it is not likely that they will cover much. The reason for this is that dental implants are considered more of an aesthetically-based process, and insurance companies usually view dental implants as a treatment option that is not necessarily a need, but rather a want for the individual. While this is far from true, it is an unfortunate reality. Lack of insurance coverage is a large factor in most people's decision to avoid dental implant treatment.

PROS

  • Positive prognosis
  • Usually last patient's lifetime
  • Mimics a natural tooth
  • Replaces missing tooth under gumline
  • Prevents bone loss

C​ONS

  • Extensive placement surgery
  • Space in mouth still visible for months
  • Multiple visits months after surgery
  • Extensive healing process
  • Invasive

Conclusion

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Ultimately, the decision is yours to make on the topic of crown vs implant, but it is important to discuss your personal options with your dentist. They will be able to give you their professional opinion on what they believe to be the best option for you. Now that you are more knowledgeable on the discussion of crown vs implant, you will be able to discuss your treatment plan with your dentist and fully understand your options.

It is also a good idea to conduct some research on the costs of both treatment options in your dental office and to get in touch with your dental insurance to see what is covered and what is not covered. Having financial assistance in the management of your dental health can make a world of difference. It is also important to keep in mind that while cost may be an important factor in your decision, it is always best to look at your dental health as an investment. You only receive one set of adult teeth, so it is important to maintain them and make all possible efforts to prevent the loss and damage of teeth in the future.

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